Arts Council England and The National Archives have signed a memorandum of understanding which marks a commitment on both sides to a shared vision for increasing access to information and improving services for the benefit of archives, museums and libraries, and the people who use them.

The strategic development of archives is not within the remit of Arts Council England. For information about archives standards and development, please visit The National Archives website:

On 1 October 2011 we took over responsibility for supporting archives as part of the functions we inherited from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

We manage a number of projects, programmes and initiatives that are open to archives. 

Supporting collections


Designation identifies the pre-eminent collections of national and international importance held in England's non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their quality and significance.   


V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The V&A Purchase Grant Fund contributes towards the acquisition of objects relating to the arts, literature and history by museums, galleries, record repositories and specialist libraries in England and Wales which are not funded by central government.

PRISM fund

The fund for the Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material (PRISM fund) supports the acquisition and/or conservation of material objects which provide an important contribution to our understanding of science, industry or technology.

Grants for the arts

Grants for the arts is an open access funding programme for all types of organisation delivering arts activities (including museums, libraries and archives).

Cultural property

Government Indemnity Scheme

The Government Indemnity Scheme offers an alternative to the cost of commercial insurance and is available to museums, galleries and libraries within the UK when borrowing works of art and objects for exhibitions and for long-term loan when particular security and environmental conditions are met. 

Acceptance in Lieu

The Acceptance in Lieu scheme enables taxpayers to transfer important works of art and other important heritage objects into public ownership while paying Inheritance Tax, or one of its earlier forms.

Export Licensing

The Export Licensing Unit issues, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Culture, licences to export cultural goods.

Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art

The Reviewing Committee's terms of reference are:

  • to advise on the principles which should govern the control of  export of  objects of cultural interest and the operation of the export control system generally
  • to advise the Secretary of State on all cases where refusal of an export licence for an object of cultural interest is suggested on grounds of national importance
  • to advise in cases where a special Exchequer grant in needed towards the purchase of an object that would otherwise be exported


Stories of the World

Stories of the World is part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and aims to welcomes the world to Britain by using our rich museums, libraries and archive collections and working with young people to tell inspirational stories about the UK's relationships with the world. 

The People's Record

In 2010 an online space The People's Record was launched to showcase and sustain the results of museum, library and archive led projects supporting community groups to have their say and tell their stories as part of a comprehensive record of the Games.

Our Sporting Life

Our Sporting Life is a unique and ambitious celebration of British Sport. It is the first project of its kind to salute sport from grass roots to Olympic podia and will culminate in the world's greatest exhibition on the history of sport as the Olympic and Paralympic Games are launched in London in 2012.